Our Commitment to Using a Racial Equity Lens

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has long sought to promote efforts around diversity and inclusion. In fact, equity, dignity, fairness and justice are among the core values that have guided us for decades and will continue to lead us into the future. As we move forward, the Foundation is looking to more intentionally sharpen its lens around equity, particularly racial equity, as a core component of our work within each of the strategies of our framework for grantmaking and learning. We believe that a person’s racial identity should not be a predictor of one’s life outcomes; therefore, we believe that using a racial equity lens is vital at this moment in time and will assist us not only in our grantmaking, but also in helping to evaluate the systems within which we live.

Over the past several decades, we have engaged in many activities to promote racial diversity, inclusion and equity across the state, among our grantees, and within our own walls. Yet, this is an ongoing journey, and much more work remains. The Foundation views diversity as a collection of both differences and similarities in a group whether based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or a range of other identities or experiences. Inclusion means authentically engaging those from diverse backgrounds in processes and decision-making.  While the Foundation will continue its commitment in fostering both diversity and inclusion through the new Framework for Grantmaking and Learning, we recognize that diversity and inclusion are insufficient in addressing historical and current inequities that our state continues to face. 

Moving forward, rather than isolating racial equity as a standalone project or focus area, our new Framework for Grantmaking and Learning will incorporate a formal racial equity lens in all of the work that we do. We will provide our grantees with the tools they need to build racial equity strategies into their work, and engage our grantees and other stakeholders throughout the state to create opportunities to partner with ZSR in these efforts as well. 

We know that our journey down this path of racial equity will continue to evolve.

This will include the Foundation continuing to look inward at our internal policies, practices, and procedures and taking an honest look at where we also can do better. We are committed to this work and will continue to acknowledge the impact of structural racism by proactively developing strategies and systems aimed at mitigating its effects on society.

Click here to access a list of definitions that the Foundation is using as a starting point as we further and deeper our own understanding of race and issues related to race.

Diversity Policy
The Foundation is committed to applying a racial equity lens in every aspect of our work in communities and within our own walls. We acknowledge the impact of structural racism and seek to support strategies and systems aimed at mitigating its effects on society. The Foundation recognizes that a first step towards racial equity is ensuring that organizations we support have a governing board that reasonably reflects the racial composition of the area or community that the organization serves.
The Foundation reserves the right to decline proposals from organizations whose boards do not reflect the diversity of the community in which they work in accordance with the Foundation’s diversity policy adopted by the Foundation's Trustees in November 2005 (and subsequently amended in May 2009/Jan 2019/Nov 2021).